Phoebe McMullan:The Rider
Acrylic, ink and watercolour on cotton textile and quilt batting
23 1/2 x 19 3/4 inches
Phoebe McMullan’s practice focusses on the surreal and mystic as a form of escapism. She creates strange and new worlds in her work which are replete with repeated motifs of flowers, animals and iconography from both traditional art history and contemporary culture.
During the most recent lockdown in the UK caused by the coronavirus pandemic, McMullan focussed in particular on mythical and celestial landscapes. The Rider (2021) is a stitched quilt made up of painted cotton fabric depicting a blue rider with antlers atop a mythological looking creature floating on a pale pink cloud. The clouds populate the surface of the quilt dotted against a deep indigo sky.
McMullan has stated that the work is about ‘a greater journey’, conjuring the idea of an epic tale of mythic proportions, we are transported to an alternate world which sparks endless imaginative possibilities. Where is the rider going? And for what purpose? The title of the work is indicative of McMullan’s engagement with the history of art, reminiscent of European expressionism, which is also alluded to through the work’s colour palette and curved, organic forms.
The artist blurs the lines between human and non-human in her figurative forms creating a fluidity which is replicated through her use of soft textures and shapes that build the picturescape. Similarly, McMullan juxtaposes her use of textile and quilt batting, with its association of domesticity and femininity, and her dream-like, surreal subject matter, collapsing preconceived notions of high and low art. The creation of these undefined worlds endows the work with a freedom of expression, allowing for continued interpretation.
B. United Kingdom 1997
Phoebe McMullan was born in 1997 in the UK. She completed the Foundation Year at Royal Drawing School in 2016 before graduating with a BA in Fine Art Painting in 2019 from University of Brighton.
McMullan’s work features a mix of iconography and imagery inspired by a wide range of sources from classical painting to internet meme culture and the proliferation of imagery in the digital age. Transformation is a key theme throughout her work, which McMullan explores through manipulating imagery from its original context and creating juxtapositions within the work.
The artist explores our highly saturated world of imagery through traditional craft techniques, often overlooked for their domestic and feminine associations. By employing these techniques, McMullan seeks to redress the balance and challenge preconceived notions of craft and art history.